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BPC's Theresa Cardinal Brown: Border Metrics Bill Can Ground Immigration Debate in Facts

Washington, D.C.– Federal adoption of a consistent, objective set of performance measures for border security efforts is long overdue, says Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) immigration policy director Theresa Cardinal Brown.

This week, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), John McCain (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the Department of Homeland Security Border Metrics Act of 2015, which would call on DHS to develop and publicly report on a wide-ranging slate of metrics related to immigration and drug enforcement efforts in the United States. These metrics, and those included in the Senate’s FY2016 DHS appropriations bill, align closely with those recommended in a recent BPC report.

“We often hear leaders say the U.S. must ‘secure the border first,’ before addressing other aspects of immigration reform, but in reality we currently have no reliable way to know what that looks like or how close we are to accomplishing it. Adopting these metrics would give us a chance to ground at least some part of the immigration reform debate in concrete facts,” Brown said.

“The past three decades have seen exponential growth in federal spending on immigration enforcement efforts. These efforts now account for half of all federal law enforcement spending, yet it is nearly impossible to determine if these resources are being used effectively and efficiently, because the government is either tracking the wrong data or, in some cases, not tracking at all. The metrics proposed in this bill get us closer to being able to assess how successful federal border security efforts have been, which is critical for making better enforcement policy down the road,” Brown said.

BPC immigration policy director Theresa Brown is available for comment on border security metrics.